What is Auditory Memory?
Auditory memory is simply the ability to remember what you hear. It can refer to speech, music, or any other sound that makes it’s way up to your eardrums and to the proper centers in your brain.
Auditory memory is critical to your child’s success both at home and at school. It is what allows him to remember that he has to feed the fish, take out the garbage, and wash his hands before he sits down to eat dinner.
He also exercises his auditory memory when his teacher asks the class to put away their math books, take out their science workbook, and sit with their hands folded on the desk until she calls them.
Auditory memory is made up of three parts: short-term memory, active working memory, and long-term memory. Short-term memory is, as the name implies, information that lasts for only a short period of time.
You might use it when you call information for a number, and then hanging up quickly, try to dial the number you heard before it slips out of your head.
Short-term memory can hold only a very small amount of information: 7 bits of information plus or minus 2. That means that the average person can hold anywhere from 5 to 9 bits of information in their heads at a time.
This is one reason why telephone numbers started out as 7 numbers.
If you would like to hold onto the information for longer than a few seconds, you’ll need to find some way to transfer it into your long-term memory. Long-term memory is like the hard drive on your computer. It is permanently stored in your brain, barring accident, infection, or other misfortune.
However, just as with your computer, you must be careful to file the information in a way that it can be easily retrieved. You would find it impossible to find a file if you stored all of your documents as individual folders.
Instead, you automatically file all of your vacation ideas in one folder, your plans for the upcoming Bar Mitzvah in another, and your ideas for a new project at work in another. This makes the information much easier to store and to find.
The last type of auditory memory is active-working memory. It allows you to hold a piece of information in your mind even if you are in the middle of doing something else.
Some children, for example, find it difficult to write a book report and remember how to spell properly, and remember the technicalities of grammar. If you have ever walked to a room to get something, and then forgotten what it is you wanted, then you too have experienced a blip in your active working memory.
Can I improve my child’s auditory memory?
Most people think possessing a good auditory memory is a lot like having auburn hair and green eyes; that’s just the package they were given, and other than some surface changes, there isn’t much to do about it if you’re stuck with mousy brown hair and dishwater brown eyes.
However, while someone can be born with a better auditory memory, it is really a skill that can be improved quite dramatically if you use the proper techniques.
Stay tuned for my next post on fun games you can use to help improve your child's auditory memory.